In an attempt to reconcile the many pieces of its disparate Internet strategy, Bank One Corp. on Friday named two executives to head its newly formed Internet Business Group.
The unit appears to be taking the shape of similar ones created at other banking companies to ensure the benefits of the Internet become fully embedded into their core businesses.
But Bank One, which created an extra set of administrative, marketing, and processing tasks for itself when it introduced its Internet-only WingspanBank.com, may have a bigger integration task than most.
To consolidate its sprawling Internet efforts, the company is calling upon Michael Cleary, the president of Wingspan, to also oversee all Internet efforts for consumers and small businesses. Bank One also has hired Christopher Klein, an exile from the dot-com world, to coordinate its Internet efforts for large commercial customers.
Giving Mr. Cleary dual responsibility for Internet activities at Bank One and Wingspan sends an even stronger signal that the company is working to more closely integrate its Internet-only and traditional bank. Last September it announced that it would promote Wingspan products through Bank One branches in Phoenix as a precursor to possibly rolling out the products in all of the banks 1,800 branches.
Mr. Cleary, 42, initially will focus on developing strategies for bankone.com, firstusa.com, WingspanBank.com, and private client services.
The challenge for us is how do we bring our brands together for customers and how do we make the sum greater than the parts, he said. We want to bring the learnings together all in one place and give the customers the same feel, experience, and efficiency throughout all of our businesses.
The group is also being asked to create an organizational structure that will reduce the number of vendors and software applications used and accelerate the development and implementation of online capabilities. This fits into the overall cost-cutting effort that James Dimon, who became chairman and chief executive officer last year, has put into place.
Mr. Cleary was the president of Smarte Carte Inc. before joining Wingspan in 1999. Mr. Klein, 37, joined Bank One two weeks ago from Internet Capital Group, a company that invests in business-to-business electronic commerce companies, where he worked for a year and a half. Before that had been a partner at McKinsey & Co. for eight years.
Mr. Klein said that Bank One would accelerate its progress in serving corporate customers through a combination of rethinking Internet capabilities as well as partnering and doing some acquisitions.
Mr. Dimon has made a number of management changes in the last few months. Last week Bank One announced the hiring of Daniel J. Frate from U.S. Bancorp to become president and chief operating officer of First USA. In November, Philip G. Heasley came on board, also from U.S. Bancorp, to be chairman and CEO of the card unit.
Paul Jamieson, the director of financial services at Gomez Advisors, said the formation of the Web group is a recognition that Bank One is ready to determine whether two brands should go forward, or if Wingspan under a Bank One brand would lead to greater efficiency.
Ian Rubin, director of online financial services research at International Data Corp., said: It makes sense to offer similar products and services through WingspanBank.com, First USA, and BankOne.com.
However, rather than those three Internet properties acting autonomously, its better to plan strategies that affect all three, he said.